First United Methodist Church Westfield

Saturday Message

Posted by on Feb 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

With Presidents’ Day on Monday, and with schools closed yesterday and Thursday, this is a long weekend for many people. If you are already away, or plan to be away, travel safely and enjoy yourself. Just come back to us. We miss you when you’re not here.

We are still in the midst of our Stewardship Campaign. The campaign this year is a low-keyed one, but your participation is every bit as important as ever. This week you will receive a Stewardship packet that will include information about our 2018 budget and ministries, as well as a pledge card. When we join the church, we promised to support it with our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service. While so many of you already support the church with so many wonderful gifts (service, prayer, etc.), this little pledge card is an expression of your financial gifts toward the work of the church. We will dedicate our pledges next Sunday, February 25.

OK, on to Sunday worship.

Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent, and for Christians, Lent is that 40-day season (not counting Sundays) preceding Easter when we are called to consider Christ’s sacrifice for us. The season actually began this past Wednesday—Ash Wednesday—when we were reminded of our need to repent and to turn back to God. One way to mark time in Lent is to think of Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, where in his last days he will be betrayed, tried, and crucified. Each day he draws closer.

The primary passage for tomorrow is Mark 1:9-12. This is the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Mark’s version is much shorter than Matthew’s or Luke’s, and doesn’t provide Jesus’ specific temptations. In fact, it doesn’t say much at all. But it still has something profound to share. The sermon title is “The Greatest Temptation.”

Connie Palmer is the Lay Reader, and Kevin and Jill Spellman are the Greeters. Our hymns for the day are How Can We Name a Love, I Want Jesus to Walk with Me, and Lord Who Throughout these Forty Days. The Sanctuary Choir will be singing Walk Humbly with Your God, by Robert Powell.

Our Faith Development Series for the next six weeks is called “Everyone Has a Story.” Each week, a different person will share part of his or her faith journey. Listening to others tell their stories may give you a way to reflect on your own. This first week Su Iliff will share her faith journey. Next week Connie Palmer will talk. Class begins at 9:00 a.m. Hope to see you there.

If you are in town this weekend, I hope you will be in church tomorrow. There is no better place to be on a Sunday morning, as we gather together to learn, pray, worship Almighty God, and greet one another.

With prayers for peace you, and for this troubled world.

David

PS. I will be away all day today leading the preaching component of the Local Pastors Licensing School. I have done this several years now, and it is something I look forward to, as I get to meet clergy who are newer to the ordination process. As of Wednesday of this week, 26 people were registered – the largest class I have had. I have enjoyed leading this class in the past, and expect that I will enjoy leading it today, as well.

Read More

Saturday Message

Posted by on Feb 10, 2018

Dear Friends,

I trust that you received a letter in the mail this week about our Stewardship Campaign for 2018. Ordinarily this is something we do in the fall, but both Chuck Sheffield (the Chair of our Finance Committee) and I had surgery which put us both out of commission for a number of weeks.

Read More

Saturday Message

Posted by on Feb 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month, and as such it is a Communion Sunday. Our special Mission Offering will go toward the Westfield Food Pantry, so I encourage you to bring extra items for the food pantry.

On a related note, you are invited to support our Junior Youth Fellowship kids tomorrow following worship when they host the “Souper Bowl Contest and Luncheon.” The youth are working to raise awareness of Food Insecurity and to collect donations for the Westfield Food Pantry. $5 will get you a sample of each soup. Additional soup servings can be purchased. They have also created a display in the lobby where you can leave items for the food pantry in the box of your preferred Super Bowl team – the Eagles or Patriots. And if you don’t care who wins, you are welcome to drop your things for the Food Pantry in either box!

Our Scripture passage this week follows directly on last week’s. Last week we read Mark 1:21-28 where Jesus casts out an “unclean spirit” from a man in the synagogue. This week, we read Mark 1:29-39, where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law while he is at Peter’s house. Word gets out, and people from near and far bring to Jesus people in need of healing. After a whirlwind day, Jesus leaves early to go out to a quiet place to pray, and from there goes out to the neighboring towns.

We have some wonderful hymns tomorrow: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; There Is a Balm in Gilead; On Eagle’s Wings; Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast; and O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing. The choir will sing Christ, whose Glory Fills the Skies, by Rachel Aarons.

Tomorrow is also the day we kick-off our Stewardship Campaign for our 2018 budget. Most of you should have received a letter from Chuck Sheffield and myself (and if you didn’t, I trust you will on Monday). As part of our campaign, Kyle, Sarah, and Luke Ashworth will share what FUMC means to them and why they support this church.

During the Sunday School hour tomorrow, all who are interested in discussing the passage from Mark that will be the basis for my sermon are invited to join the conversation in the Fellowship Room at 9:00 a.m. We will start promptly at 9:00, as I will need to leave at 9:40 to get ready for church.

I hope to see you tomorrow for any and all of the day’s activities: Sunday School at 9:00, worship at 10:00, and lunch to support our youth and the Food Pantry at 11:15. Remember to bring extra items for the Food Pantry!

See you then!

With all hope and joy in believing,

David

Read More

Saturday Message

Posted by on Jan 20, 2018

Dear Friends,

In all my years of preaching, I have never preached on the book of Jonah. No particular reason, it just never happened. So when I saw that Jonah was one of the lectionary readings for Sunday I decided that this was the time. Most of us don’t know much about Jonah, except for the part about him being swallowed by a whale – or what is a more accurate translation from the Hebrew, a “large fish”. But I still like “whale.”

Read More

Saturday Message

Posted by on Jan 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow we are going to look at one of my favorite passages in the Bible: 1 Samuel 3:1-21. The passage is long, but rife with phrases and images that resonate with so much our lives. Here are a few:

Read More

Saturday Message

Posted by on Jan 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

Christmas was almost two weeks ago. Most of our decorations are put away, the kids are back at school, and while we may not be fully settled into the New Year, we are finding ourselves being forced back into some kind of routine. Winter has reminded us that we live in a part of the country with distinct seasons. For that I am grateful. Each season has its own particular beauty and each can evoke our wonder. I know many people don’t like winter, but I appreciate the fact that winter boils things down to the essentials in ways the other seasons don’t. In winter, we have to be prepared: we have to keep food in the refrigerator, gas in the car, enough warm clothes and blankets, a warm home, and we need to know what’s coming.

Years ago, I lived in Minnesota, and after some years moved to Texas. I may not be in the majority here, but I would take a Minnesota winter to a Texas winter in a heartbeat. But I hope you have managed to keep warm throughout this cold spell. I also hope that shelters have had enough beds and food pantries and soup kitchens have had enough food. I hope we as a nation will work harder than we have to address the sin that we even need shelters and food pantries and soup kitchens, and I pray that as Christians we continue to stand up for those who for whatever reason need the kinds of resources these facilities offer.

All that being said, the season of Christmas is over, and this Sunday we enter the season of Epiphany. This Sunday is an unusual one in the church year, in that the readings for today can be either the wise men from the east come to the manger, or the baptism of Jesus.

This year we will look at Mark’s very brief version of the baptism of Jesus—which means it is also a day to look at our own baptism. The primary passage for the day is Mark 1:9-11, but we will also read Isaiah 43:1-7 to talk about our baptism and some of what it means to be baptized and called by God. When you watch a baby being baptized in the church, what thoughts go through your mind? Sunday’s sermon title is “Think About Your Own Baptism.”

Our hymns tomorrow are, How Firm a Foundation, When Jesus Came to Jordan, and Sent Forth by God’s Blessing. The Sanctuary Choir will keep to the Christmas component of the day and will sing We Have Seen His Star, by Everett Titcomb.

Lina Silvester is our Lay Reader, and Connie Palmer will deliver our Morning Prayer.

Tomorrow is Communion Sunday, so remember to bring food and personal items for the Food Pantry. Our Communion Offering will go to support the Episcopal Fund, which supports the work of United Methodist Bishops around the world.

Even before you arrive at worship, I encourage you to come to the first of this year’s Adult Faith Formation offerings.

For the next four Sundays, Rev. Dr. Nancy Duff will lead a series titled “Living Faithfully into Older Age.” We will meet in the Social Hall (until the Fellowship Room heat is fixed.) from 9:00 – 9:50 AM. This series will explore the promise and threat of older age.

· Wk. 1 (Jan. 7): Stages of Life
· Wk. 2 (Jan. 14): Retirement
· Wk. 3 (Jan.21): Long Term Care Facilities
· Wk. 4 (Jan. 28): Facing our Mortality.
Nancy is on faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary and teaches various classes on Medical Ethics. She has been on the Ethics Committee at the University Hospital of Princeton for over 20 years.
Also this Sunday, Sunday School classes for every age begin again after the Christmas break.

I hope you plan to be in church tomorrow. I understand that we may not say it as much as we should, but you are missed when you’re not here. I also think you miss something when you’re not here—a feeling of being connected with your church family, regular reminders of who you are as a child of God, the opportunity to consider what God is doing in your life, what direction God may be urging you to take…. The list goes on. Making a commitment to be in church regularly is a very good way to start the year and to be back in touch with God through this supportive and nurturing community of faith.

I send every good wish for the New Year, and with every hope that you will know God to be at work in your life throughout 2018.

With all hope and joy in believing,

David

P.S. I am sending this on Friday night so I can be ready to head off in the morning for the Men’s Breakfast at 8:30 at the Westfield Diner. I am hoping to see some of the men of the church there.

Read More